“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer
The popular and respected Texas Representative Stephen Stockman, who served as the U.S. Representative for Texas's 9th congressional district as well as Texas's 36th congressional district in the 1990s, had influence and a growing following. In 2013 Stockman used his influence to collect more than $300,000 in donations and intends to help people who have experienced traumatic events.
Imagine the shock of hearing that the respected Stockman allegedly conspired to use contributions designated for a charity to not only fund his campaign but for his personal use as well, which is a felony. There were also charges for conspiracy to falsify statements having to do with reporting contributions and trying to launder the money.
In 2018 Stockman was found guilty of more than 20 felonies and sentenced to 10 years in prison. The once influential, popular, and respected elected official is found to be untrustworthy, disloyal, and now hated by many, due to the abuses and misuses of influence.
When you gain influence, you’re obligated to keep the trust of those whose loyalty placed you there. The pressures of influence in leadership bring a person’s values and code of ethics to the surface. Unethical or scandalous behavior will undermine respect and credibility. Favor gives way to anger and resentment, which leave people feeling betrayed disrespected. Influence, which takes time to earn, can be removed in a moment.
Understanding the Use of Influence
Understanding the use influence lies at the heart of leadership; influence is not purchased, designated, or accredited. You must earn influence; influence can be temporarily received by association with others who’ve earned it. Borrowing influence, then proving yourself trustworthy and loyal over time, allows you to become influential on your own merits.
Many attempting to circumvent the process will steal influence by imitating influential people; borrowing influence isn’t a bad way to begin if you’re trustworthy. If you have ulterior motives, you’ll eventually be found out.
Some with questionable motives attempt to utilize their position to gain influence; over time, their unethical intentions break through the facade, and they lose all credibility. People with influence will follow people of influence; there are no shortcuts.
3 THOUGHTS ABOUT OBTAINING AND MAINTAINING INFLUENCE
1) Your Core Values Determine Your Influence
Who you become is determined by your core values. Your core values are the underlying beliefs that drive your behavior, influencing your decisions. These deeply held principles shape your understanding of good or bad, right and wrong. It is the core values of leaders that develop the core values of their organizations, thus framing the mindset of the corporate culture, which in turn sets their goals and the ethics with which they will obtain them.
The type of influence you have comes from who you are and what you value most. Dale Turner aptly states, “Because everything we say and do is the length and shadow of our own souls, our influence is determined by the quality of our being.”
2) The Drawing Power of Influence
“We do not see things as they are; we see them as we are.” – Anonymous
For better or worse, leaders attract who they are and not necessarily who they want. Your core values that influence all you say and do will resonate with others of like mind causing them to gravitate to you. If a leader wishes to change their following, they must change themselves. Expensive campaigns and clever slogans change nothing if their core values remain the same.
To attract loyal, influential people of integrity, you must place people before programs, others before yourself, value honesty, transparency, and self-discipline to stay the course for the betterment of society.
3) Maintaining Influence
Andy Stanley says, “You can’t influence people you refuse to associate with.” Loyalty, as with influence, cannot be purchased or mandated; you must earn them over time. Those who work with you will be attracted to and emulate your traits that add value to them. When people are consistently respected, appreciated, and validated, they permit you to challenge them to become better than they are. Maintaining a high level of ethics creates influence, inspires loyalty, and yields great returns for your selfless investment in the future of people.
“Never underestimate the influence you have on others.” – Laurie Buchanan
*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***